UN agency supporting Palestinians suspected of aiding Hamas - ForumDaily
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UN agency supporting Palestinians suspected of aiding Hamas

Israeli intelligence has accused some members of the Palestinian UN agency of taking part in the kidnappings and killings of civilians during the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. Many countries have stopped financial support for the agency, reports Reuters.

Photo: IStock

An Israeli intelligence dossier claims that about 190 UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) employees, including teachers, participated in the attack as Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives. The dossier contains the names and photographs of 11 of them.

The dossier was compiled by Israeli intelligence and shared with the United States, which suspended funding to UNRWA on 26 January. The agency employs 13 people in the Gaza Strip. More than 000 countries, including major donors the United States and Germany, have stopped funding the agency.

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The United Nations has not officially received a copy of the dossier, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on January 29.

Aiding terrorists

The Palestinians accused Israel of falsifying information to tarnish UNRWA. The agency says it has fired some employees and is investigating the allegations.

The dossier says one of the 11 people - a school teacher - helped his son kidnap a woman during a Hamas attack. As a result of the terrorist attack, Israel said 1200 people were killed and 253 kidnapped.

Another man, an UNRWA social worker, is accused of being involved in transporting the body of a murdered Israeli soldier to Gaza and coordinating the movement of pickup trucks used by the terrorists. He is also accused of involvement in the supply of weapons.

The third Palestinian in the file is accused of participating in riots in the Israeli border village of Be'eri, where one tenth of the residents were killed. The fourth is accused of participating in the attack on Reim, where the captured military base was located. The attack killed more than 360 residents.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini should resign.

“UNRWA personnel participated in the October 7 massacre,” he said. “Lazzarini must draw conclusions and resign.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of a "deliberate political attack" on an agency it has long criticized. He called for the restoration of relief funds.

Israeli officials said the 190 people named in the dossier were "hardened terrorists and murderers." Overall, about 10% of UNRWA personnel are believed to have links to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Help at risk

Many countries have stopped funding the agency. This is a huge problem for the agency, which more than half of Gaza's 2,3 million Palestinians turn to for help every day. It suffered greatly due to Israel's war with Hamas. UNRWA said on 29 January that it would not be able to continue operations in the Gaza Strip and throughout the region beyond the end of February unless funding was renewed.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to meet with UNRWA's major donors in New York on January 30.

Guterres spoke on January 29 with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt and also met with the head of the UN's internal investigations to ensure that the investigation into the Israeli allegations "will be carried out quickly and as effectively as possible." Washington will be watching very closely what steps UNRWA takes in response to the allegations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a news conference. He called the allegations "highly credible" and "very disturbing."

Asked under what circumstances and how soon the United States might resume support for UNRWA, Blinken said: “It is critical that UNRWA immediately, as it has said, investigate, that it hold people accountable if necessary, and that it review its procedures".

UNRWA was created for refugees from the 1948 war during the founding of Israel in Palestinian lands that were administered by Britain.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of participating in the conflict and obstructing the resettlement of refugees. Israel has repeatedly said in the past that agency employees took part in armed attacks.

UNRWA denies wrongdoing, limiting its role to providing assistance.

“Based on intelligence information, documents and identification documents confiscated during the fighting, it is now possible to identify approximately 190 Hamas terrorist operatives serving as UNRWA operatives,” the Israeli intelligence dossier states.

Israel accuses Hamas of “methodically and deliberately deploying its terrorist infrastructure across a wide range of UN sites and assets,” including schools. Hamas denies this.

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Israel's military campaign against Hamas in the enclave has killed more than 26 people, according to the Gaza Strip's health ministry. Due to insufficient humanitarian supplies, deaths from preventable diseases and the risk of famine are rising, aid workers say.

Most Gazans have become increasingly dependent on UNRWA for assistance, including about a million people who fled Israeli bombing and took refuge in its facilities.

Over the weekend, Guterres vowed to bring to justice any staffer involved in the “disgusting” acts. But he called on countries to continue funding UNRWA for humanitarian reasons.

“The tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many of whom are in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be punished,” Guterres said on January 28. “The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met.”

As ForumDaily wrote earlier:

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